Putting Together Your Basic Home Tool Kit

home tool kitEveryone who lives somewhere, needs a basic home tool kit.  Unless you live in a place with Schneider the Handyman, there are some things you’ll just have to do for yourself. Whether you own or rent, live someplace large or small, there will always be those moments when you just need some tools.  Now I’m not a handy person, but I have embraced the basic set of tools I’ve put together and am always grateful to have them. So if you don’t have your home tool kit yet, let’s get you started!

There are two ways you can go about this.  The first is that you could just buy a pre-assembled tool kit from Home Depot or Amazon, that gives you all the tools that THEY think that you need.  This is quick and easy, but probably includes things you’ll never need and is likely to be more expensive.

What I think is the more fun way, is to put together your tool kit yourself.  This way, you can think about what you might actually need, and find the items that work right for you.  Plus, there’s something about standing in the tool aisle at Home Depot or Lowe’s and picking out your own tools that is just more rewarding (but maybe that’s just me).  

Where to begin? First, take an assessment of the things you regularly do around your home. This will direct you towards the tools you’ll need most often.

Hanging Photos

This is the most common task in a home, and has basic needs. You’ll need a hammer and some hangers. Hammers are important to pick out in person because you want to make sure it feels right to you. How’s the grip, does it seem to slip at all or is it a comfortable fit? Is the hammer too heavy? Or not heavy enough? You can only assess these things in person.

Additionally, you’ll need a good selection of hangers.  This is a great time to buy a pre-assembled kit such as this one at Home Depot. A picture hanging kit like this will give you a broad selection of items to hang just about anything, and should set you up well for a long time to come.

Also, make sure you have a level and a tape measure so you can ensure that things are evenly spaced, and straight.  On the Peninsula you’ll find that pictures that are straight one day may be crooked the next, courtesy of our local fault lines.

Tightening Things

You can see by the header how much of a handyman I am.  I’m fairly sure “tightening things” is a technical term from mechanical engineering programs. But the truth is, that’s the next most common thing you’ll do, tighten things. Screws come loose, sinks drip or leak, door handles wiggle. Time to tighten!  You’ll need some screwdrivers and a wrench.

For screwdrivers, you need a good combination of sizes and types. If you didn’t know that there are “types”, there are. A Philips screwdriver is the sort of star shaped one and the flat head is, well, the one with the flat head.  It’s important to have a couple of each in different sizes as you never know what you’ll be dealing with. You can pick these out individually, or get a pre-assembled set like this one (no, this isn’t an ad for Home Depot, it’s just the most convenient large hardware store on the Peninsula). I really like this type of set because it color codes the Philips vs. the flat head, allowing me to think even less when reaching for a tool.

Additionally, you need a good wrench or two. Easiest is to get something adjustable that can work on multiple sizes. I don’t use a wrench very often but when I need one, it’s always tricky to get the right size.

Loosening Things

It would seem that “loosening things” would only require the same tools as “tightening things”, and in many cases, that’s accurate. However, there are some situations when you just can’t get it loosened with a wrench or screwdriver and you need more leverage. That’s when a simple socket set comes into play.

In my house, this is usually needed in relation to a bike or grill, but sometimes there are other needs. Having a simple socket and ratchet set has really made a big difference for me. You could piece this together yourself, but the pre-assembled sets are actually the best way to go, unless you’re super knowledgeable.  A set like this should be able to meet all your standard needs.


There’s no getting around it, we live in earthquake country. We have them all the time, and need to be prepared. For your home tool kit, it’s crucial to have an item to keep you ready for a big quake. That is having a gas shutoff wrench.  A tool like this will make it easy to get the gas shut off when the time comes. In my opinion, this is easier than the standard wrench you have in your tool kit to tighten things because it’s already pre-set to the right size. You don’t have to think at all, which can be a good thing when you’re reacting to a major quake.

The Rest of the Home Tool Kit

There are some fundamental pieces that every tool kit needs, that serve multiple purposes, and don’t necessarily fall neatly into the categories above. If at all possible, you’ll want to add to your home tool kit:

  • Pliers – you will be amazed at how often you are actually using pliers. Getting a small set can be great, and ensure that one set of pliers has wire cutters in them because you’ll use that often as well.
  • Utility knife – whether it’s open boxes from Amazon, cutting duct tape or breaking down cardboard, there are loads of uses for a utility knife. It will also help save your kitchen scissors from becoming dull.
  • Power drill – this may seem a little hard core, but it’s really not. A power drill can not only help to make holes (crucial for some wall hangings,) but can tighten and loosen things quicker than a screwdriver. If at all possible, get something cordless – it gives you more freedom.
  • Duct tape – if you’ve ever watched Mythbusters, you know that duct tape can do everything. Trust me when I say, you just need to have it.

So what are you waiting for? Head out to put together your basic home tool kit. Odds are, you’ll need it sooner than you think!


IMPORTANT NOTE: I have not and will not verify or investigate the information supplied by third parties.

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